Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No, your dog isn't a "designer dog"

Hopefully everyone here just went "what's a designer dog?"

The answer is, there is no such thing as a designer dog. It's just what people call a mutt when they don't want to admit they have a mutt.

More specifically, you get a "designer dog" when you breed two badly bred dogs of two different recognizable breeds together, and then make up a ridiculous portmanteau word for it, like "cockapoo."

How do I know the parents are badly bred? Because people who have high-quality, papered, unaltered dogs, breed them to high-quality, papered, unaltered dogs of the same breed. People do not breed their many-thousand-dollars Canadian champion poodle to a cocker spaniel.

The dumbest thing about the "designer dogs" fallacy is that they're actually the very opposite of "design." There are mutts that are bred by design; for example, sled racing dogs. Those are bred selectively to enhance specific desirable traits. "Designer dogs" aren't. It's a one-off cross which isn't intended to produce anything in particular. It's just that your kid has a cocker spaniel and your sister has a poodle and for whatever reason, you think that's a good way to add to the dog overpopulation problem.

Naturally, because they're crosses, "designer dogs" have no consistent type. Which doesn't stop people from writing lengthy notes about what a "cockapoo" is like. Realistically:

These are all "cockapoos." They all look different. You wouldn't even know they're the same "breed" - for the excellent reason that they aren't. They're not a breed at all, they're a MUTT. And if you were to cross two of the above, you'd still have no idea what you're gonna get, because it's not a breed.

A breed is "a group of domestic animals or plants with a homogeneous appearance, behavior, and other characteristics that distinguish it from other animals of the same species." When you breed two of the same breed, you get back the same homogeneous appearance and other characteristics. It takes many generations of purposeful cross-breeding, and selecting the traits you're looking for, to create a breed.

And the fact that the unscrupulous Continental Kennel Club will register your "cockapoo" just shows there is always a niche for taking advantage of the gullible; it doesn't in any way validate your "designer dog" nonsense.

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